There is much to share about this thriving city in the Sonoran Desert, here are a few of the highlights.
Far less populated than Arizona’s Tucson or Phoenix, Palm Springs is a relatively small western desert city. It covers approximately 94 square miles (240 km2) with a 2010 census population of only 44,552. In the winter months, the climate is warm and sunny, attractive to additional visitors and snowbird residents.
Summers here in the desert are brutally hot. In the past it was virtually closed down in summer, but now it is a year-round community. In the hottest months, residents get their outdoor exercise at dawn and rely on air conditioning and swimming pools.
More info: Palm Springs Wikipedia.
The geography of the area is dominated by underground tectonic plates that have formed mountains and hot springs. It is called the Coachella Valley and is a rift valley in southern California’s Colorado Desert, a subdivision of the larger Sonoran Desert. The desert valley stretches for about 45 miles (72 km) from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea.
The city’s most attractive feature, towering mountains, defines Palm Springs. The San Bernardino Mountains to the north, the Santa Rosa Mountains to the south, the San Jacinto Mountains to the west and the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the east.
The arid desert biome of Palm Springs yields a splendid variety of cacti, succulents and palms. Whether you’re in a wild area or a residential neighborhood, desert plants and flowers decorate the landscape.
Native California Fan Palms (Washingtonia Filifera) are everywhere in Palm Springs.
There are many large and small parks in the Palm Springs area, below are two: Indian Canyons and Oswit Canyon.
Indian Canyons, the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, is six miles from the center of town; has three canyons with approximately 60 miles of trails traversing palm groves, rock formations, and mountain-fed streams.
Oswit Canyon, on the edge of town, is within the city limits on South Palm Canyon Drive. It offers a short desert trail flanked by the San Jacinto mountains.
Pre-colonial settlers to the area were Native American people of various Cahuilla Nation tribes. They developed extensive communities in many of the canyons. Today more than 10% of the city is part of the Cahuilla reservation, the most populated reservation in California.
The city’s history as a fashionable resort town with natural hot springs dates back to the 1900s when tourists arrived with medical conditions that required dry heat. Since then, spas, resorts and other vacation activities like golf courses and tennis clubs have also expanded in this pleasant winter climate.
It is only 100 miles east of Los Angeles, attracting Angeleno weekenders. In its early history, Palm Springs was a mecca for Hollywood film stars.
Over the past century, film stars, American presidents, British royalty, military leaders, famous architects and many other notables have enjoyed this community.
Link: Notable Palm Springs Residents, Wikipedia
Star-struck visitors today could spend days scouting out homes and mansions of early Hollywood celebrities and famous people. Here are two, below.
The first one is Marilyn Monroe’s home where she lived with husband Joe DiMaggio; and the second is Liberace’s home. Both homes are now private residences, but feature the original celebrity’s mailboxes.
Architecture became noteworthy in Palm Springs when wealthy film stars started buying up desert properties and building houses.
Architectural Digest calls it the “Mecca of midcentury modernism.”
Spanish Colonial architecture is prominent here too.
The downtown (below) is lively with al fresco dining and chic shops.
Museums, restaurants, bars, and hotels accommodate and entertain visitors and residents.
Below is an interior look at the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Not far from the art museum is a colossal 26-foot (8 m) sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, created by sculptor Seward Johnson. It is a popular and permanent tourist attraction. And just like Marilyn Monroe herself, the sculpture “Forever Marilyn” is heated with controversy.
Palm Springs highlights the natural features of a canyon desert, hosting generations of sun-loving inhabitants.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.